EPISODE 1b: FRANKEN-Tractor is delivered to the American Tractor shop!

franken3Old Pete hooked up the trailer and headed off to the wild blue yonder to haul Franken-Tractor (FT for short) back to the shop for a complete, post purchase evaluation. I mean, who would buy this thing before knowing exactly what it’s all about? You got it right, the American-Tractor crew would!

It was a toss up if FT would even fit on the trailer with its oversized tires but with a few come-alongs and some “umpf”, the multicolored beast inched itself up the ramps and onto the trailer. The fit was so tight, that the tires now have the scars of red trailer paint on them from the siderail rub as FT crept its way into place.

Just as FT settled in, the seller said words that would soon come back to haunt Old Pete, “I engage this to put it in park”… he then grabbed a lever and put it in place.

The trip home was uneventful and slow, yet gratifying that the great beast was chained into submission and on its way back to the shop.

franken4Franken-Tractor is an odd kind of tractor. Initially, Old Pete was told that it was a 1962-ish 621 model, which meant that some of its parts would interchange with the 1953 Golden Jubilee back at the American Tractor shop. Upon examining the tractor and hood, Old Pete decided that FT was closer to being a model 2000. More research needed to be done to pinpoint exactly what FT really was however. The serial number was illegible from the layers and layers of paint, so the final assay would not be had until some sleuthing was done.

Home at last and Old Pete and his new friend, FT, were met with grins and cajoles by the crew in the shop. The stainless steel custom fabricated fenders looked like leftovers from a hospital cafeteria, plus the jumbo propane tank mounted behind the seat appeared to be something like a rural George Jetson might use. All just had to go! Once the tractor was unloaded, some real hands-on work was going to get this project moving in the right direction. Oh… did I mention “once the tractor was unloaded”?

“Now don’t let that thing roll into the back of me with that propane tank on it or we’ll all be nothing left but a hole in the ground and me in outer space!”

franken5The tie-downs were removed, wheel chocks tossed aside and the American-Tractor crew commenced to pushing Franken-Tractor back down the ramps it crept up 100 miles ago. Man power wasn’t enough as the tires were so tight against the sides of the trailer, people were going to herniate themselves. This was a job for the 1920 New Holland! We knew we could simply pull it off the trailer, then all get back to work. Around from the back of the shop came Clarence like a proud warrior on his shiny blue steed. The tractors were joined together with a 25′ flat web rope and thats when all the fun started. Clarence yelled, “Now don’t let that thing roll into the back of me with that propane tank on it or we’ll all be nothing left but a hole in the ground and me in outer space!” Problem was, the wheels wouldn’t even turn on the Franken-tractor. It was sliding on the bed of the trailer, not rolling. Old Pete climbed aboard FT and attempted to disengage the parking brake, except it went “thunk” instead. Free moving, loose and obviously, broke. Franken-Tractor was in dire straights now as it wouldn’t roll backwards off the trailer.

After much fiddling, cursing, bloody knuckles and so forth, Old Pete yelled the command to Clarence, “Just pull the damned thing off”…… So, with wheels locked, it screeched backwards off the ramps until the rear wheels touched the ground, and then the trailer was pulled out from under the rest of the precariously dangling machine. It was now at rest on the ground, but had no intention of moving.

Franken-tractor came with a general manual, so out it came and Old Pete had a quick refresher course in dismantling a “something” model, of a “something” year of a Ford tractor (at least we knew that much). In order to get at the access for the gear, much of the cobbled up tractor had to be torched away. The hospital-grade fenders… the propane bomb and its framework… all stuff that really shouldn’t have flames anywhere nearby.

Piece by piece, fender by fender, Franken-Tractor was stripped of its deplorable shroud until it sat there fenderless, bombless, and looking rather the restoration project instead of the intended parts tractor. The fact it couldn’t roll backwards or forwards and was blocking the driveway was just a minor inconvenience at this point. Franken-Tractor was taking on a whole new shape, a new silhouette, a whole new outlook. Even the clouds parted and the sun shone down on it as if to have the Sun-Gods tell us that we did well in saving this poor Ford monster from a life of laying in a field.

Once the bowels of the tractor were opened, the park gear was disengaged and not broken as feared. A fine grinding wheel was taken to the serial number to reveal that our Franken-Tractor is actually a 1964 Ford 4000 Select-O-Speed, a near rare model which was the icing on the cake after a long day of driving and torching.

4000
a fine example of a 1964 Ford 4000 and how Franken-Tractor should have been colored

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Episode 1a: FRANKEN-tractor – aka – Ford 2000 Select-O-Speed

franken1we knew we were in trouble, when we noticed that the
¬†farmers cattle had licked the serial number clean off the tractor…”

It’s quite amazing how you can become aware of a tractors existence. Word of mouth that you are “on the hunt” seems to give a better pay-back than a $50 ad in a high-volume newspaper…. especially if the right people are listening.

Such is the case of our current episode; “FRANKEN-Tractor”…….

Our travels took our crew out to southern Ontario, Canada, near the town of Dundalk. Mid-March still saw snowdrifts along the roadsides and bone-chilling winds. How on earth do folks live there? At least the roads were paved, that is, until we were within a mile of our destination. What was a decent generalstoreroad quickly turned into a cowpath which then turned into a cow field with nothing short of loose cattle all over the place. The folks with the FRANKEN-Tractor were busy rounding up their bovines and soon had them back in their confines and happily munching on some hay.

The tractor sat there, still somewhat drifted in by snow, and happily displaying more colors than a graffitied wall in East LA. Yellow, red, blue, black…….. all uncovered by a much needed pressure washing by its owner when he first dragged it home with the hopes of working his land with the colorful monster. It had been converted to propane at some point in time and had a tank strategically placed between the fenders and acting much like a backrest as you sat on the machine. God help the farmer who had a nicotine habit if that thing happened to have a slow leak at some point in time. I’m sure that only the space shuttle disaster would eclipse what would happen in the event someone happened to “light up” a stogie while heading out to do some serious cultivating.